Saturday, April 2, 2011

Martyr Moms, Ladies Who Lunch, and the Uber Organizer

Ah, it's that time of year again, when the school year starts to heat up and ALL KINDS of volunteer opportunities present themselves. This year, since I'm not "working", I've been more involved in school functions and celebrations and the volunteer crowd at school. And there's something that just isn't right.

There are  so many moms here who don't work, mostly because they can't. They're here because they're husband is working, but they don't have a work permit. And so, lots of them are the "ladies who lunch". They go to the gym, they get their nails done. They look beautiful; but I can't really figure out how they spend their time besides that. One woman I met was telling me how busy she was and didn't have time to come to school for some function. I asked what kept her busy.... "Well, I read a lot."

I think there are plenty of women who volunteer because they like it, and they want to be involved. But then, something happens to them- they become grouchy and petty and-- martyrs. And I can feel it creeping into my head. I haven't had a haircut, I haven't cleaned my house, I haven't done anything for myself, because I've been forced to volunteer.... But, no one forced me to volunteer. So- why did I?

I think there are people who like to feel important. They volunteer for stuff, but only for things that are "high visibility"- where they get recognized for their good deeds.  Then I think there are people who genuinely like to be "useful", and they volunteer because even if the greater community doesn't see their good deed, they know they did it, and they know that it was somehow helpful (important?)  And then I think there are those who feel like they're only as good as their last good deed, and volunteering is somehow paying for something. I think I've been all of these people at one point or another in my life.  I hope I volunteer now with a joyful and generous heart, not out of a sense of obligation, or guilt, and not looking for some strokes or recognition. But, the lack of help for big things makes it hard to maintain that sensibility.

I think that often, soon as someone volunteers,  most everyone else takes a step backwards and mentally wipes her brow "whew! dodged that bullet!" And today I had a conversation with an Overwhelmed Volunteer who said "It's not worth it to volunteer; everything I do is somehow not right and she's SO picky." So- under the header of "No good deed shall go unpunished" comes the reality of volunteering for the Uber Organizer. She runs everything, and anything less than complete perfection is Not Acceptable. So, it puts a bad taste in your mouth when you volunteer and what you do isn't good enough or just  plain Isn't Enough. When I got there this morning at 9 AM (Saturday), I really thought I'd work until noon. Noon came and went.  At 3PM she said we had at least 3 more hours of work. What???  The reason we have three more hours is because she won't let anyone do anything without her doing it "with you". So, you have to wait in line until she's free so that she can show you how to do something (that you could have figured out yourself) At one point, she wanted me to wait for her, so that we could print something together and run copies. I said "Just send it on email; and I'll do it myself." She blinked at me like I had clapped close to her face. Huh??  Three words for you, Ms. perfection: Del- E- Gate.

Kent came to bust me out at 6:30. I got a call at home at 8 PM because she wanted to re-do something I had done (which was completely acceptable, BTW) No wonder No One wants to volunteer; it sucks the life out of you to work with people like this.....

No pictures-- too incriminating.


MultipleMum said...

I have always volunteered in some capacity or other. I recognise all of the characters at play in this post. It is so annoying that you can't just 'do your bit' and get on with things. The Uber-Organiser sounds like she needs a swift kick in the shins! I hope things are running more smoothly now? Or perhaps you would be better off volunteering your time elsewhere? A great rant of a post! Thanks for Rewinding x

Anonymous said...

What a nightmare! Sounds like this uber-organiser has forgotten the purpose of volunteering in the first place.
Visiting from Rewind.

The Mummy Hat said...

Ahh the perfectionist! I get like that with my house but luckily it's only my husband who suffers!
I'd love to offer some useful advice but if she's anything like me, good enough is a long narrow road and there are no short cuts!
Good Luck and I hope she takes a chill pill and learns to relax a little (I did, on weekends that is!)
Rewinding with the Multiple Mum